Shirley Elaine Koons was born Nov. 1, 1942, in Canon City, Colo., to Gerald Allen Koons and Alta Irene Cathcart Koons.
The family moved to Las Vegas, N.M., in 1943, where Shirley’s dad worked for the Santa Fe Railroad. She went all through school in Las Vegas.
Shirley’s love of animals started at a young age. She brought home all kinds of strays, and when given her first horse, her love and talent for working with them blossomed. Shirley was a rodeo queen and later a professional horsewoman.
She attended college in Portales, N.M., before marrying Tom in 1962 and moving to Ft. Collins, Colo., where he was studying at Colorado State University. Twins Robin and Richard were born in 1963. Tom, Shirley and kids moved to Watrous, N.M., where they joined the family Hereford cattle operation.
Shirley raised kids, was an involved ranch wife, and took pride in her horses. After her kids were out of the house, Shirley participated in AQHA events which nurtured her passion for horse showing and made many life-long friends. Over 20 years, she raised and showed many quarter horses. She was recognized and honored in horsemanship circles, winning numerous awards through the years. Shirley was a supportive mom to her kids, encouraging them through 4H and Junior Hereford activities, and hauling them to countless horse shows and rodeos. Family remember her as eager to train and teach the next generation of horse lover.
As her horse showing days slowed down, Shirley enjoyed working with best friend Becky Sellman, who was also her niece and sister-in-law, at The Ranch House in Crawford.
After moving to town from the ranch, Shirley played bridge, attended First Congregational Church of Chadron, and continued to enjoy her horses.
Shirley is survived by older sister Lois Irene (George) Payton of Borger, Texas; daughter Robin (Brent) Meeks of Taylor; grandson Marshall (Katie) Meeks of St. Louis, Mo.; granddaughter Carlee Meeks of Taylor; son Richard (Annie) Sellman of Chadron, as well as many nieces, nephews and extended family members in Nebraska, Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.
Shirley was predeceased by niece/sister-in-law Becky Sellman and her parents.
A celebration of Shirley’s life will be Saturday, April 20, 2 p.m., at the First Congregational Church of Chadron, with burial immediately following at Highland Center Cemetery.
A memorial will be established for Chadron Hospice in her name. Donations can be sent to the Chamberlain Chapel, PO Box 970, Chadron, NE 69337.
Robin and Richard would like to thank Shirley’s many friends who called, texted and came by to visit during this last year, as she became increasingly housebound. Your kindness will be long remembered.
Online condolences can be made at www.chamberlainchapel.com
Chamberlain Chapel of Chadron is in charge of arrangements.